Once in Royal David’s City

We’re at Sanctum talking about music in worship. After a conversation writing Mary’s Lullaby, Ruth mentioned Once in Royal David’s City to one of the other delegates. I was going to share it in the Sanctum group and discovered it had slipped through the cracks.

So here it is. A slight rewrite of Once in Royal David’s city to give it a bit more meat.

Once in Royal David’s City

Once in royal David’s city, stood a lowly cattle shed,

Where a mother laid her baby in a manger for His bed.

Mary’s courage brought to birth, Jesus, Saviour of the earth


He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all

And His shelter was a stable and His cradle was a stall

With the poor and mean and lowly, lived on earth our Saviour holy


For he is the promised Saviour, bringing freedom, love and peace

Comfort for the broken-hearted, ever shall our joys increase!

In the darkness of this night, comes the Everlasting Light.


Not in that poor lowly manger, in a home in Bethlehem

We shall see Him, but in glory, in the new Jerusalem!

When creation is restored, there we’ll dwell with Christ our Lord!


A Short Essay on Friendship

Well hopefully no one will read this.  And if you do, don’t tell them. But…

As I grow older I have discovered what friendship means. I thought I knew but apparently I didn’t.  I can pinpoint a few key moments but in the last 36 hours things have crystallised:

Friendship is spending a couple of hours talking about the hardships you face via Skype and listening to the hardships your friend faces. And hearing. And listening. And laughing. And joking. And saying “maybe next time we Skype we could do it at 10pm with a glass of whisky?”

Friendship is sitting around a table with a takeaway and saying out loud “this is just us picking up the conversation we were having six months ago now we’re 200 miles apart without missing a beat”.  Didn’t even skip. 

Friendship is answering the question “where do you want to go in this sprawling metropolis where all things are possible?” with “I don’t mind. I’m here to see you”.  So we’re off to Mecca Bingo. My choice. Didn’t expect that did you‽ 

Friendship is a constant messenger ping coming from your pocket letting you know that “I want to go to this gig with you” or “I think that you will love this song” or “you need to say this to your bishop*” or “come and play this song on Thursday night at jam night, it’ll be a right laugh!!”  Ping. Ping per per ping ping. 

Friendship is that… We are fond of the silliness.  We are. Sometimes words can’t express the love that you have for a friend but “we are fond of the silliness” will let that whackjob know how much he means to me.  Yeah. I said whackjob. That’s what mates do. 

Friendship is being held up to be the best that a person that I can be. And I fail all the time, but I have the best friends in the universe. And friendship is also seeing people you love becoming the best that they can be.  Friendship is holding people up when they feel like falling down – heck, my guys hold me up to be more than I can be all of the time. 

Friendship is forming community with people whether they are in the here right now… or constrained by family commitments and the bounds of space and time.  Friends are there for you. 

Geography is annoying. 

Friends are intimate connections that transcend the bounds of Google maps estimated arrival time. 

*trust me it really was nice stuff. 

Rock Mass Leeds – #RockMassLeeds

We have got a whole host of stuff coming up with Metanoia in the next few months.  As we’re getting confirmation on things we’re starting to be able to publicise what’s going on.   @duttyo has been organising #RockMassLeeds in St Andrew’s URC in Roundhay, North Leeds.  It is such an awesome venue for The Rock Mass and it is set to be HUGE!  Bring your friends.  Bring your enemies.  Bring your neighbours!

Check out the website for more details.

What They Don’t Teach You at Theological College

Big Bible Blog

Sorry I haven’t been blogging more recently.  There is a lot of cool stuff in the pipeline (that I will tell you all about when I get a spare five minutes), some academic work that needs doing and a lot of personal stuff going on at the moment.  I’m getting the odd 140 character tweet out into the world as I can do that via phone as I walk from one meeting to another but stringing together a set of coherent thoughts into a blog post is more difficult.

The Big Bible Blog is keeping me going with macroblogging as I have a monthly deadline.  Here is my post from this month.

Blue Like Jazz

I feel a faith and film event coming on.  This may be the film I use most often on a Sunday morning for the next five years.  It may not.


There seems to be a lot of conjecture and hyperbole around at the moment.

If all the people in the world camped out in your back garden,
Would you write and tell the king or would you grab a tent and join ’em,
I can see that all the possibilities for freedom,
Could just sway your first decision to subject them all to oblivion.
And do you feel your life is threatened by fabricated stories,
Dreamt up by the sons of campers that you killed back in the forties,
I could see that all the possibilities for conflict,
Could just back up your decision to subject them all to oblivion.

I can’t stand the things that they do to me,
I won’t wait for Jesus to prove to me.

When all the people in the world move out of your back garden,
Would you celebrate the passing of your life as Mr. Badman,
You could see that all the possibilities in peacetime,
Should force a new decision don’t subject them all to oblivion.

I can’t stand the things that they do to me,
I won’t wait for Jesus to prove to me.
I can’t stand the things that they do to me,
I won’t wait for Jesus to prove to me.

Oh goodness, my gracious, I hope its not contagious,
Although it seems its catching it’s best not to get careless.
Oh goodness, my gracious, I hope its not contagious,
Although it seems its catching it’s best not to get careless.


Going to Church for the First Time?

Phil Ritch posted this on his blog with the simple question, “is this what church feels like”?  What a wonderful video.  I have struggled to articulate what it is like for a hairy biker like myself to enter the church for the first time.  It is two evenings ago that I was trying to explain this to a group of cradle Christians using the metaphor of going into a betting shop for the first time.  I won’t be doing that again, I will be showing this clip!!

I must mention this to the Canon Missioner for his “Welcome” training day!

Circles of Trust

Living Distinctively

There are many small group resources out on the market but it’s often hard to find something that is actually engaging.  There is nothing more demoralising than finding a small group leader with a tired looking pamphlet entitled something as exciting as “Judges”.  I often find myself asking “why are we doing this” whilst everyone shuffles their feet and looks at the ceiling.

When I heard about “Living Distinctively” I was a little more optimistic.  What does it mean to live the Christian life?  What does it mean to be a follower of the way?  What does it mean to be a disciple?  If we are truly following, what does that mean?  How does it change the way in which we live?

Living Distinctively:  The Issues of Life Through Different Eyes deals with the real life situation ethics that society is looking at.  Issues such as wealth and poverty or just war theory are explored by prominent figures in the relevant fields.  The DVD has 15 minute clips presented by Ian Henderson, a young man with an inquisitive nature.  He gently questions each of the guests in their kitchens, places of work and their battle ships (really).  They explore the bible, their understanding of God’s nature and the changes that they have been inspired to make to their lives as they follow.

The booklet contains enough questions to keep a discussion going for at least an hour and a half.  To be honest, the DVD clips are so thought-provoking that we used the booklet to keep us on track but the discussion flowed naturally with little reference to it.

Each session ended when I pointed out that we had overrun by 15 minutes.  I highly recommend it.